Friday, March 13, 2015


"Minor" Updates
Got a pair of repaired sharks back, bringing my total up to 14 again. I love Baldwin sharks but they were a rare occurrence on the PRSL so at least half must go!

Got enough parts to get the Heljan turntable rebuilt. Whether it ever gets wired is another question, but K4s and Sharks look mighty pretty showing off on it.

Sold off 4 engines and 7 freight cars. ("Progress is our most important product!")

Major Update

Actually got the 3rd op session scheduled for May. Getting consensus can be a struggle. So looking forward to it!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


I have a railroading friend who got diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer out of the blue 4-5 months back. He went home to be with the Lord Thursday. Kinda makes you stop and re-evaluate. I am starting to pile up the years and "expecting" to be able to actively participate with my "N" scale railroad for at least another 10 years. Having said that, I no longer have the capability to do the same modeling projects I could do when I was younger, had better eyesight, dexterity, and more money! So I have decided to document my bucket list - things I would like to get done before I depart the hobby (one way or another).

Some projects on my "Train Bucket List (feel free to volunteer to help):

High Priority:

-   Woodbury Station (Woodbury is the front and center focal point of my layout). Model does not have to be detailed but does have to capture the structural outlines and look. The locals have to be able to say: "O look, there's the Woodbury train station!"
Woodbury 1951 PRSL Vol 2 p104b
Woodbury Station - Back Side
-   St Patrick's R.C. church (I am not R.C. but it is a landmark right across the street from the station (currently occupied on my layout by a very Presbyterian looking church structure). Just needs to give the same impression. Basically the building front.

-   Decal (and paint touch up) 3 RDCs (and the decaling has to be perfectly placed or I will receive massive aggravation from the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines Historical Society. (I have the decals.))

+  Cut my freight car inventory in half (currently 657 cars) by sale or trade for work.
+  Cut my locomotive roster (126) in half (mostly older ("classic") engines; by sale or trade for work.
+  Sell my unused HO BLI PRR 2-10-0 Decapod & HO BLI PRR Centipede.
+  Sell my unused Kato N gauge Broadway Limited Passenger set (since it never ran on the PRSL!).
-  Manayunk bridges (tough assignment here since it has to have the look but span the existing scenery).

+ Westville brick station,
+ 30th street steel trestle
+ 30th street station area
+ Camden downtown (generic)
++ Enjoy the company of like minded hobbyists in local op sessions.

Mid-Level Priority:

-  Remove lettering (does not seem to want to budge) from 4 Model Power/AHM PRR P70 coaches and decal for PRSL (I have the decals).

-  Del Monte Food distributors (2 story with a rounded quanson hut type roof structure)

-  Get at least 3 of my 5 Bachmann Plus PRR F7s fixed (the typical old Bachmann problem: all gears split and no parts available from Bachmann)

Lower Priority:

-  GHQ PRR L1 Mikado brass conversion (and paint) (I have the GHQ kit and (2) Kato Mikados).
-  Get 3 Bachmann Plus ATSF F7s fixed (split gears)
-  Get a Kato Reading Bee-Line SD45 fixed (no idea why it stopped running)
? Add KD couplers to several engines

+  =   I can still do

-   =   I can no longer do; looking for trade partners

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Pennsylvania Railroad H30 Covered Hopper Cars

From 1934 to 1952 the Pennsylvania Railroad built 1325 40' H30 class covered hopper cars. They were of riveted construction and included external 45 degree outside bracing. They were unique! They had a 70 ton capacity and were used to weather protect relatively light products such as cement. As a rule of thumb, the tuscan cars were pre-1950, followed by the grey paint scheme.

Fox Valley Models has been kind enough to produce these unique cars in several paint schemes including both the grey and tuscan versions of the Pennsylvania Railroad. They made it into the Conrail era but were gone by about 1981.

Although I am actively trying to downsize my freight car fleet by about 300 cars, I could not pass up the opportunity to purchase a pair of these unique cars since they fit right into my modeling era and were cars I watched frequently travel by my childhood homes.
Loads of cement being delivered to Buzby Bros. cement mixing plant

Parked in the South Woodbury Yard
PRR H30 Covered Hopper Car

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Christmas Postscript

The last of the crazy Christmas moves just took place on my Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. We needed the work train for this one.

My son (the other family nerd) and 2 of his 6 kids arrived from Florida for a post-Christmas visit with presents. This year's prize was a USS Enterprise spatula which now takes it's prized place along side of my Enterprise pizza cutter (see the December 2012 post), my Klingon Bat'leth letter opener and the Star Trek "Battle Stations" motion sensor.

Neither of us will ever grow up.
Now the PRSL can return to the 1950s.

Friday, January 2, 2015


In my 30 years of armchair railroading and the 15 years since, I have collected about 30 Woodland Scenics (and Classic Metal Works) specialty vehicles and figure sets. Most of the vehicles have made it to the layout but few of the figure sets have. With Woodbury, Westville, and Brooklawn scenery pretty well along, it is time to start emptying the figures drawer. My January 31, 2013 blog entry (Where's Waldo) covered some initial figure installations. This week we added a farmer's market (with produce truck) at the Woodbury station. I don't remember the timeframe, but I do remember certain days where produce and flowers were hawked in the station parking lot as sanctioned activities.

The Suds n Shine car washers were added to the appropriate colonial houses in the Manayunk section (sooner or later I will find a way to do the Manayunk bridges) and a set of canoers on the Schuylkill River below. I think the Schuylkill may be too rapid for canoes here but skulls did race (Dad Vail Regatta) below this point.

Family boating (and dock) and another set of canoers were added to the Big Timber Creek scene in Brooklawn (there was/is an actual marina upstream on the other side of the train trestle).

At my age handling the N gauge trains is only a minor issue but placing/gluing these N scale figures is a challenge that is slipping beyond my abilities. I actually prefer the slightly larger Asian 1:150 figures.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

For Christmas this year, the 1950s are temporarily a distant memory. Modern GE's & SD70s (in heritage schemes) are center stage with all the holiday and specialty cars on parade.

In Camden northbound and southbound freights flash by.


In Woodbury, south Barber avenue offers an up-close view of freight cars that appear only once a year.

One Solitary Life

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty.

He never wrote a book,
He never held an office,
He never went to college,
He never visited a big city,
He never travelled more than two hundred miles from the place where he was born,
He did none of the things usually associated with greatness ,
He had no credentials but himself.

He was only thirty three, his friends ran away.
One of them denied him .
He was turned over to his enemies, and went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While dying, his executioners gambled for his clothing, the only property he had on earth

When he was dead,
He was laid in a borrowed grave,
Through the pity of a friend

Nineteen centuries have come and gone.
And today Jesus is the central figure of the human race, and the leader of mankind's progress.
All the armies that have ever marched,
All the navies that have ever been built and sailed,
All the parliaments that have ever sat,
All the kings that ever reigned,   put together,   have not affected the life of mankind on earth
As powerfully as that one solitary life!

Adapted from a sermon by Dr James Allan Francis in “The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Holiday Chocolate Soup?

When the holidays roll around, unusual freight cars begin to show up on the (my) PRSL.

Based on the last set-outs at Campbell Soup it appears they must be planning to produce a chocolate soup for the holidays! (Sounds good to me.)

Chocolate soup anyone?
Meanwhile there is a problem in Woodbury. Two siding slots left and 7 tank cars of syrup to deliver.

Meanwhile the Camden and Woodbury yards are receiving some unusual freight cars.

And it looks like the NS & UP heritage units have been loaned to provide power (a 60 year time warp is unfolding).

Soon the Christmas trains will be on the go!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Operating Session's Final Chapter - The Merchandise Transfer

Actually it should be (and will be) the first chapter of each day since it sets up the day's runs by supplying needed empty freight cars from the Philly side of the river.

Initiating the coal (WY843/WY842) and tanker (WY79/WY80) runs from staging should remove so much work from the Pavonia yard job that the two Tim's might not have enough to do (which means they could find other mischief to get into - and we don't want that)!

I decide in advance what needs to be delivered / shipped from a spreadsheet (see the blog entry for May 31, 2014) which determines when and what kind of cars are needed for the commodities to be handled each day. We have 14 sidings (18 customers) on line and 10 more customers south of the layout portions modeled. In a 7 day week we will process 229 freight cars:
            88        Hopper cars                 (2 power plants and coal furnaces in every town)
            10        Covered hoppers         (DuPont & Shell Chemical on the Penns Grove branch)
            69        Tank cars                     (2 refineries)
              4        Chemical tank cars      (DuPont & Shell Chemical on the Penns Grove branch)
            30        Box cars
            22        Refrigerator cars         (for the gazillion farms in southern NJ - "The Garden State")
              5        Gondolas
              1        Flat car
The 3 staging tracks make this all possible.

The Pavonia yard (remember the PRSL was a North - South, dead-ended line with only the one major yard in Camden on the northern end) does not always have all the cars needed for the day's work. Hence the 3rd staging track for the merchandise transfer run.
The merchandise transfer run from Philly
Three sharks to pull 6 cars - "slightly" over-powered maybe?
Today's run only brought in 5 needed empties (3 reefers, a covered hopper, and a chem tanker). The job would only need 1 or 2 engines but I am showing off some of my sharks that were off-site for work for 79 days. (Pretty, aren't they!) They will return with 17 cars (9 loads and 8 unneeded empties (tanker, gondola, 3 hoppers and 3 box cars). Notice the inbound empties and the outbound empties should be mutually exclusive car types.
Leaving town is a bit different - 18 cars in tow.
Passing Campbell Soup on the way out of Camden
Those sharks were indeed beautiful engines
This run should help keep the yard empty for sorting cars for the day's 5 runs to south Jersey (and enough work to keep Tim junior out of trouble).

Whew! Documenting all these runs was a lot of work. Now I have time to set up the Christmas trains for the grandkids and eventually start working on the layout again.

Happy Birthday Jesus!
Merry Christmas everyone!


Friday, November 28, 2014

WY841 / WY840 the Penns Grove Local

Our last PRSL run of the day will be the WY841 / WY840 Penns Grove turn. We head out with a reefer to be iced in Woodbury (before going to yet another south Jersey farm), a chemical tank car for Shell Plastics in Thorofare (off-line), and a tanker for DuPont in Deepwater (off-line), in addition to 5 loaded hopper cars.

In Westville  we drop 3 hopper loads at the PRSL generating station. (The other 2 hoppers will go to Barry Bros in town but they will be delivered on the northbound return run.)

While here we need to snag an empty covered hopper from Buzby Cement.

Leaving town we can see the hopper car that we will be retrieving on the return trip.

In Woodbury we meet WY80 on its return northbound leg with 8 loads from the Sunoco refinery in Paulsboro and the 3 loads it had picked up from Texaco on its initial southbound leg.

 We drop the our reefer for icing (and retrieve 2 iced reefers for delivery).

Going and Coming. We head down the Penns Grove branch as WY841 to service the off-line Shell Chemical plant in Thorofare, DuPont in Deepwater, and several southern New Jersey farms. 

The deliveries having been made we return as WY840 northbound training only an empty and 2 loads.

The Barry brothers delivery was a bit tricky. The coal unloading trestle is not going to hold a locomotive's weight and we had such a short train.

First we used the 3 cars we have to snag the empty hopper and plop it temporarily just in front of the remaining cabin (caboose) on the main line. Now we are too short to deliver the 2 loaded hoppers and keep the engine off the wood trestle, so we drop the 2 hoppers at the base of the siding. Back up and re-snag the empty hopper. This leaves us with enough cars to push the 2 loads up onto the trestle.

Now we can reconnect our short train. We are now done for the day and are anxious to head back to Pavonia to sign out.